Tyler Suiters

Hey, everybody! With the Consumer Technology Association, I'm Tyler Suiters. We are the owners, producers of CES, the largest, the most influential tech event on the planet. Welcome to season three of CES Tech Talk.

We are based here in Washington, D.C., so we are constantly meeting with members of Congress talking about policy that affects the tech world from the devices you buy to the innovations that we have access to. And today, a sit down conversation with the one member of Congress who may understand technology and innovation better than anyone else: Congressman Will Hurd.

If you don't know him you need to. From San Antonio, down in Texas, 23rd District as a matter of fact, and it's a deep dive into the issues that are affecting not just our tech sector, but really security in general. This is a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and a former undercover CIA operative. This is serious business, the intersection of policy and technology.

Tyler Suiters

So to help me sort through all of this, my friend, my colleague, Tiffany Moore, who is senior vice president of Political and Industry Affairs here at CTA. Tiffany, good to have you back with us season.

Tiffany Moore

Thanks so much. It's exciting.

Tyler Suiters

Happy season three, right. Only if we had a cake or something really cool.

Tiffany Moore

Next time.

Tyler Suiters

That or a Snap filter, yeah. Yeah. It's lower calorie. You know The Hill especially well, Tiffany. And I imagine it's a rarity to find someone who really understands tech policy, let alone someone who understands it as well as Congressman Hurd.

Tiffany Moore

Well you know he is a special and rising star on Capitol Hill. The value of having so many new members of Congress is that they've experienced the technology, they've worked with it and so it's not something, kind of an add on that they need to learn. And he had a distinguished career. Previously he was at the CIA, but also worked in cybersecurity. And so as you kind of get into the nuts and bolts of serious policy issues, tech policy issues on Capitol Hill, he has the experience to kind of look under the hood and understand exactly what policy and regulation can do to innovation.

Tyler Suiters

So Tiffany and I spent part of the morning in Congressman Hurd's office and this is your old stomping grounds. You spent a fair amount of time as a staff member-

Tiffany Moore

Yes.

Tyler Suiters

-on the House side where Congressman Hurd works. What was it like for you being back in the ebb and flow? I mean I know you're up there regularly, but here we are in a member of Congress's office. The sights, the sounds, bustle of activity.

Tiffany Moore

Well, there's a lot of excitement and you'll be able to hear, it comes through in the interview, of just kind of the hectic schedule that members of Congress have. And we were so delighted that we had so much time with Congressman Hurd, but he understands the importance of technology and innovation policy. So we were really excited we were on Capitol Hill. And you can hear kind of the bustling of going from office to office and bells and everything that happens. I mean members of Congress typically, probably have about 15 to 20 meetings a day. And so it is often times hectic, but it's also very exciting.

Tyler Suiters

All right. You're coming along with us on a special edition of CES Tech Talk to Capitol Hill and the Halls of Congress.

Tyler Suiters

Well Congressman thanks again for taking time with us during what is always a busy time for you I'm sure.

Rep. Hurd

For y'all, anytime. Anytime. I always make time for my friends at CTA and also talk about upcoming CES is always a good opportunity.

Tyler Suiters

Well let's set the stage a little bit because your peers here in Congress have not been painted especially well in terms of recent tech hearings, right? Some of the high profile hearings.

Rep. Hurd

You're being very diplomatic.

Tyler Suiters

I try my best Congressman. You are far and away exceptional. You understand this sector exceptionally well, the technology too. How well would you say your peers do understand technology? Or how big of a hurdle is it for them to overcome?

Rep. Hurd

Well the difference is do my colleagues use the technology or not, right? And so if you're using the technology you have a different understanding of it. I would say that my colleagues are starting to realize that they need to be focusing on technology, not only the problems with it, but also the opportunities.

Rep. Hurd

I'll start with cyber security and defending digital infrastructure. Many of my colleagues understand that there needs to be a focus on that. That almost every American has been touched by some kind of breach. They don't necessarily always know how do you better defend our digital infrastructure, but they recognize it's a problem and I've been quite positively surprised by the number of colleagues that have come to me and said, "Hey, can you help explain this issue? Or walk through some of the potential solutions to this?" So I think that's good. I think now, right now, a lot of the focus up here in Congress is on social media, specifically, and privacy around social media. And do you break up tech companies or not? And here's what I would say. I'm glad we're having this debate with American companies. Imagine if we were having this debate with Chinese companies. And I always say China is not developing facial recognition to make it easier to buy groceries in the grocery store, right? They're using it in order to continue to conduct human rights abuses amongst their people. So we want to make sure that these American companies are the ones that are leading and dominant in these, in various sectors.

Tiffany Moore

I appreciate your focus on kind of the opportunities and not just the challenges that tech brings, particularly emerging tech and the focus on the kind of excitement on things like AI. And you've often said that data is the coin of the realm and the importance of data. Can you kind of speak to how important data is and how it can contribute to some of the solutions that are facing, and issues that are facing the country?

Rep. Hurd

So if you're older than me, I'm 41, and you say AI people think HAL, from Space Odyssey 2001, you know the creepy Simon computer in space? And if you're younger than me you think Roomba, all right? I'm sure that debut at CES probably a number of years ago-

Tyler Suiters

iRobot is a wonderful member of-

Tiffany Moore

Yes, they are!

Rep. Hurd

But you have a lot of folks that are reading all of these prognostications that 25% or workers are going to be impacted by artificial intelligence because they're in jobs that 70% of their work can be done through automations, right? People are worried about the future because how is that going to impact their job? And so we have to take that into account when we look at what the opportunities are. I would also say that when you look at some of the industries or the job positions that can be potentially impacted by automation, you also have a need for people in that space. Drivers. Are we talking about driverless cars? And how is that going to impact people that are long haul truck drivers and things like that? Well we don't have enough of those people.

Tiffany Moore

Exactly.

Rep. Hurd

So this is going to be able to help meet a need of making sure we're getting goods and services from point A to point B. And a lot of times I think artificial intelligence should be thought of how is it going to assist humans, not necessarily how is it going to be replacing humans. But we need to make sure that we're training current work force, that we're educating our kids to be prepared for these jobs. But the opportunity with data, all of these things work if you have data. And one of the things the government should be doing is making sure we're giving as much information available to the public as possible so that data can be used for, to train algorithms, right? And that's why one of the first bills I was part of when I first got to Congress was the Data Act. And it was basically saying okay, information, the federal government needs to be in machine readable format. It's like this is 2015. We're not already doing that?

Tiffany Moore

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Rep. Hurd

So how do you make some of that stuff available? NOAH, the National Oceanographic and, I forget what the second O-

Tiffany Moore

Atmosphere something.

Rep. Hurd

The weather data that the federal government has access to, getting that out to folks who have access. And they are doing that now, is a perfect example. And when you look at what's happening in many states, when states have provided, whether it's information on contracts, when that gets made public and people are able to look at it, you're able to identify ways fraud and abuse. So the more data that's available, the better our algorithms are going to be. The better the algorithms we have the better decisions we're going to be able to make. And we're going to be able, as a government, provide better digital facing services to constituents.

Rep. Hurd

So that's how all these things are ultimately connected, but we got to protect that data in what is PII now, right? There's many definitions and that's why talking about what kind of information should be protected and who owns it. I'm of the opinion, I own it. I own my data. You own your data, right? And you should be able to decide how that data is used. And we need to have a conversation around that, especially in light of the Europeans passing GDPR, the Global Data Privacy-

Tyler Suiters

Data Protection Regulation.

Rep. Hurd

The Data Protection Act that the EU passed, right? Which is now everything you go to a website you realize how many websites have cookies on it.

Tiffany Moore

Exactly.

Rep. Hurd

Because of GDPR.

Tiffany Moore

And our friends in California as well who've passed a privacy law. So we look forward to working with you on that and supporting the federal privacy law. I think one of the things that makes you unique is your ability to find solutions out of a forest of problems. But I know one of the things, particularly when we think of our member companies and their ability to kind of be used ubiquitously, ride sharing is something that's incredibly important. And recognizing, you know you took the lead in recognizing that federal employees weren't able to use a ride sharing service because of some regulation or kind of lack of understanding. So can you speak a little bit about that.

Rep. Hurd

Sure.

Tiffany Moore

I know federal employees everywhere thank you.

Rep. Hurd

It's crazy to me that a federal employee, when they went TDY, so they are, if they're home, where they work is in Washington, D.C. and let's say they had to go to San Antonio, Texas for work. You stay at a hotel. And you get reimbursed for that hotel, but if you used Airbnb or if you used Uber of Lyft to get from your work meetings you couldn't get reimbursed for that. And that's just absolutely nuts to me. And so it literally required an Act of Congress in order to get federal employees to get reimbursed for using those kind of ride sharing and home sharing, those types of apps. This is the kind of stuff that we should be doing to make sure that we're leveraging all the technology available to us. And oh by the way, guess what was happening? They were saving the federal government money-

Tiffany Moore

Exactly.

Rep. Hurd

-by using some of those applications and they weren't allowed to use it, which is wild. But that's where you can find these simple piece of legislation that have overwhelmingly bipartisan support. The old saying is how do you eat elephant? One bite at a time. And that's what we have to do on many of these, on these issues.

Tiffany Moore

Now for many of our listeners, they're probably watching the news and they're seeing gridlock in Washington and kind of the parties fighting with each other, particularly in Congress. And as you can, you know the road to the next election, which everyone is looking to but kind of if you look at the current Congress and kind of what's on your to do list, what do you think can actually get done in a bipartisan way? What areas do you think there's some real opportunity?

Rep. Hurd

Sure. And I would say in the last Congress, the previous two years, 990 bills got signed into law. Excuse me, 990 bills passed the House of Representatives. All but 15 of those were bipartisan. Most people don't know that number. I don't know what the stat is now, but ultimately there are more things that get done than most people highlight. And there's two areas where there is bipartisan agreement. The threat China is to our national security, to our economy. And then the problem of cyber security. And cyber security is also, the threat of cyber security is also being driven by Chinese state sponsored hackers stealing intellectual property, doing technology transfer by coming in and buying companies. And so those are two areas that are, that there is agreement on the threat.

I wish I could say right that now we could pass a national breach standard, which is something that needs to happen. I think you can't talk about privacy unless you talk about a breach standard. I think you can have similar conversations around that. What is, we said early, what is PII? And how is it protected whether it's medical or financial services. These are some of the big questions that we have to grapple with, but I don't know, I don't see the legislation moving through on those types of issues.

Rep. Hurd

So it is a very, it's an uber partisan time right now. And it's going to require some people that are focused on getting things done to break through some of this gridlock.

Tiffany Moore

Exactly. Well one of the things you mentioned is China. And we appreciate kind of your ability to have nuance and understanding that there are some threats, particularly with China. But our strategy may not be the best particularly when it comes to tariffs.

Rep. Hurd

For sure.

Tiffany Moore

And we found our industry, particularly the tech industry, is baring the brunt of having to pay tariffs on imports. We just heard the President's announcement not too long ago that his list for, I think 80% of those items will be consumer products. And a lot of the products that Americans enjoy and have the ability to purchase them at a decent price point, but that's threatened under this new set of tariffs. So Americans have already been experiencing tariffs for the last year, 18 months, but it's going to get worse. I appreciate your nuance view the tariff are not necessarily the best strategy, particularly how they, in the way that they hurt consumers.

Rep. Hurd

There is no question China is a threat to our economy and they are doing things they shouldn't be doing. We talked earlier, they are hacking into our systems and stealing intellectual property. They are attempting to buy U.S. companies and take them over so that they can turn them into a Chinese company. They are behind research in many of our U.S. universities that they will then take and adopt. They are directing Chinese employees and Chinese students how to go into our schools and then working in U.S. companies to provide access to those companies. China, they're dumping steel on the international market. They are a problem, and we need to deal with it.

But tariffs is a tax on the consumer. And so ultimately the people who get impacted the most are American consumers that are trying to buy these products. And it's, technology's being impacted, but also agriculture. So you're going to see the cost of going grocery shopping is going to be increased. So a tit-for-tat tariff war is not the way to solve the problem of Chinese IP theft and cyber breaches. The way you solve the problem is if an American company can't do it in China than a Chinese company can't do it in America. Period. That's true reciprocity. If an American company can't invest in an artificial intelligence company in China then the Chinese can't invest in the United States. Period.

Tiffany Moore

So one of the most exciting things is this generation wireless and Americans have seen how their phones have gone to 3G, 4G and soon it will be 5G. And what we're most excited about in the tech industry is the tech that is going to ride on those networks and all of the great services that Americans will be able to enjoy. But there are some impediments and I know that in Congress you all are working to remove those barriers to 5G deployment so that Americans will be able to access these great services.

Rep. Hurd

So you can't talk about 5G without talking about HUAWEI, right? And again, I know we've been focusing a lot on China, but we really are, this is about who is going to be the leader in the future economy? Who is going to be a leader in driving these new jobs and new industries? And the reason that China is so focused on mastering 5G and using HUAWEI to undercut everybody else is they want to own the application stack on top of 5G. They want all the companies that are going to be doing broad artificial intelligence to be a Chinese company. They want every entity that self driving networks to be Chinese companies. And the way you get to that end point is that you've got to have that 5G network.

Rep. Hurd

There are only three other companies, other than HUAWEI that provides the antennas and the edge products you need for 5G to work and that's Erickson, Samsung and Nokia. And we need to make sure that U.S. companies, we need to make sure that U.S. cities have the density of, so that 5G can prosper. So the build out of 5G networks is important. I know AT&T, Version, T-Mobile is focused on that in places like Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Los Angeles. And so we need to make sure those cities have more 5G capacity than Seoul, South Korea, then Beijing, then Shanghai because that is the test bed where all these other companies are going to come and operate. So because of the way 5G works you need more antennas than you do for any of the other Gs. So a lot of local municipalities, it takes a long time to get that approval to put that antenna on top of the existing phone pole that has the power lines, right? And so there are some local problems to this. I want to also figure out how can we incentivize the deployment and development of 5, I call it 5G plus because let's think about the next, the next type of technology, so that it's U.S. companies and our allies that are being competitive so that we can compete with HUAWEI.

Rep. Hurd

You can't go to Germany and say, "Hey, guess what? The Chinese have a back door into your HUAWEI routers." And think that they're going to be like, "Okay, fine. We're going to go with something else." Because to them, it's cheaper to go with HUAWEI, right? And so until you're able to compete on price and deployment then that's how you win this game is let's out innovate. Let's out work. And I will always take the side of American and western Democratic loving countries who focus on entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship and creativity. And so it's exciting. And this is different because when we went from 3G to 4G everybody thought that Europe and Asia was going to be the center point for 4G. We also, nobody had thought of how can 4G be used? Nobody thought of the iPhone, which really brought in the revolution of 4G. Now with 5G, we know what the kind of applications we're going to be able to run. And that's what's exciting. We just to make sure that we have the infrastructure in place to take advantage of that opportunity.

Tiffany Moore

One more question, Congressman you have joined us at CES more than once. Can you speak to this, the importance and the excitement there? I think it's hard to capture unless you actually see it. And as a policy maker we make sure that we bring you all to CES so you can see what innovation is out there.

Rep. Hurd

When you actually see these things that to most of us think are the future, all right, you know it's folks of my generation always talk about the Jetsons. I mean it's like this stuff is actually happening. And it's not only, you know the things that I was blown away, the times I've been is like the exoskeleton stuff that is out there, is pretty amazing. Understanding how we're going to actually achieve a driverless vehicle environment is fantastic. But then you have stuff like ... And everybody laughs at my favorite thing from -- was the smart closet. You have stuff like that, but seeing all these amazing companies that are on the cutting edge of creativity. And this is where, if more people saw that you would focus on the opportunity of technology not the concern that it's going to, that we're going to have robots taking over the world, right? And so that's what I think is great about CES is you see what the real opportunities.

Tyler Suiters

Congressman the passion and the deep understanding of these issues certainly show through. Thanks so much for your time.

Rep. Hurd

Always a pleasure to be chatting with y'all.

Tyler Suiters

Just an awesome conversation especially when you walk away from an interview knowing more than when you sat down. Tiffany, you and the Congressman talked at length about the value of going to CES. You've spent a lot of time with policy makers there on the ground in Las Vegas at CES shows past. What do they get out of it? What's the enriching part for them because when you hear them talk about it there's so much enthusiasm there.

Tiffany Moore

Well yes Tyler, we're very excited. Each year we host a Leaders in Technology Program at CES. And it's an opportunity for public policy officials to come to CES and understand the value, the excitement, the promise of innovation. And so as members of Congress or state legislatures start grappling with some of the issues facing the tech community they have a firsthand knowledge of what those companies are trying to achieve, the excitement around it. And so as they're kind of looking at policy they see it through that lens and that's invaluable for us particularly on the Governor Affairs team at CTA. And because of that kind of engagement we've been able to see successful policy that actually increases innovation and members of Congress having an understanding as to the kind of effects, while well intended, that some of the policies can have. And we were fortunate each year CTA honors members of Congress because of their commitment to innovation policy. And Congressman Hurd was our 2017 Digital Patriot. And so it's always great to kind of see those opportunities flourish for engagement with members of Congress and have it translate into good tech policy.

Tyler Suiters

Right. So you have Digital Patriots that are honored every year by CTA, lawmakers, policy makers, influencers who really understand the tech world. What's it like for the other group, other members of Congress Tiffany? You're with them at CES. What is it that catches their attention, especially those folks who might not know tech policy quite so well?

Tiffany Moore

I think the most important thing that captures them is the excitement around technology and the hopefulness around what technology can do. And so if that's the only thing they leave with it's valuable for us as we go to Washington and state capitols to talk about innovation, to talk about what our companies are doing. So with anything it's valuable in kind of reassuring the talent and the innovation in the U.S.

Tyler Suiters

Tiffany, great conversation. You've got to promise me you're going to come back this season, right?
Tiffany Moore

Of course! I can't wait.

Tyler Suiters

You're not one and done?

Tiffany Moore

No. This is actually, this is my second one. We're going to go for number three.

Tyler Suiters

Well, Tiffany, thanks for your time today. And hey, all of you joining us thanks so much. And once again, welcome to season three of CES Tech Talk. We want you to catch every single episode. So look, go to our website, CES.tech, CES.tech and be sure to download our podcast or get on list, get these regular updates. Every time we drop a new one you'll have it in your hands, on your phone, wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Tyler Suiters

Now from the Halls of Congress, next week we are taking you to the Halls of Shanghai, China, for CES Asia 2019 is right around the corner. We'll take a deep dive into the game changing innovations, many of which you see at CES, but also with a bit of a twist to them. How they are shaping and changing the very influential Asian consumer technology market. That's all coming up on our next edition of CES Tech Talk.

For all of us here, and that includes not just Tiffany and me, but our outstanding executive producer, Tina Anthony, and our superstar studio engineer, John Lindsey.

We're glad you're with us. Let's talk tech again soon.

 

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